- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Instead of sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on quixotic missions to try to persuade the Chinese and Indians to forgo economic development in favor of sketchy climate-change regulations, President Obama should focus on the effect such tasks are having — on her.

The whole point of bringing Mrs. Clinton into his administration was to keep her quiet and happy. Above all, it was to keep her involved so she didn’t get idle and resentful — and conspiratorial with her partner in love and crime, Bill.

Yet, in just six short months, Mr. Obama has managed to isolate and pull the rug out from under her. How has she been dissed? Let us count the ways:

c Iran. In the early stages of last month’s democratic revolt, Mrs. Clinton urged Mr. Obama to be tougher on the regime and more supportive of the protesters. He blew her off. Then, more than a week into the massacre, he finally made a stronger statement condemning the regime’s brutality.

Mrs. Clinton should have been satisfied — except he didn’t alert her before he did it. She had to hear about it on Fox News with the rest of us.

c Russia. She did not accompany Mr. Obama to Moscow two weeks ago to meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. She claimed her recently broken elbow prevented travel. But let’s get real: She would walk over hot coals while swallowing a burning sword to be at the center of the world’s action.

Because Russia is pretty much the only foreign policy portfolio that hasn’t been taken away from her and given to a “czar,” she would have packed enough Tylenols to get through it — if she had thought she would have some influence. Instead, she stayed home, nursing her elbow and a rapidly simmering grudge.

c Syria. Mrs. Clinton’s State Department had a “working group” negotiating concessions from Syria, including ending its support for terrorism through Hezbollah and the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once the concessions were secured, a U.S. ambassador would be dispatched to Damascus. In an end run, Mr. Obama decided to appoint an ambassador before her team could gain a single concession.

c Israel. Having adopted Mr. Obama’s entrenched positions on freezing Israeli settlements and engagement with Iran, she has sacrificed much of her previously solid Jewish support. Turning her back on Israel can’t sit well with her.

c Personnel. Mrs. Clinton wanted longtime Clinton confidant (and conspirator) Sidney Blumenthal to serve with her at the State Department. The White House said no. She also wanted Harvard University professor Joseph S. Nye Jr. for the ambassadorship to Japan. Again, Mr. Obama deep-sixed her choice in favor of one of his major fund-raisers.

Mr. Obama’s manhandling of Mrs. Clinton is shortsighted and stupid. As anyone with two alert neurons knows, the Clintons do not handle being dissed very well. Hell hath no fury like a Clinton scorned.

The Clintons’ revenge won’t be in the form of a horse’s head in Mr. Obama’s bed or a smear campaign. And it won’t be in the form of gross intimidation and shakedowns because Mr. Obama and his Chicago enforcers, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, can beat the Clintons at that game.

Instead, the Clintons’ revenge will take shape around the only thing that matters: the presidency in 2012.

Here’s how it will go down: Mrs. Clinton will stay in her job for a respectable time, maybe another year or so. Then she will resign on principle over an issue critical to national security — perhaps Israel, maybe Iran getting a nuclear weapon. She will give a predictable speech about being honored to serve the president, how much they’ve accomplished together and how she’s still a loyal Democrat. Then she will say that because of Issue X, she can no longer in good conscience remain in Mr. Obama’s administration, so she regretfully tenders her resignation.

She will then call together her 2008 campaign team, all of whom are already on standby. She will begin by making quiet calls to her stable of big-money contributors. She will start to call in chits from members of Congress, senators and governors whom she has helped in the past. And they, reluctant to turn their backs on their party’s president but increasingly uneasy with his failing agenda, will offer her under-the-radar encouragement: “Run, Hillary,” they’ll whisper.

And she will. She will run against Mr. Obama for the 2012 Democratic nomination. She will run against him from the Democratic center — against his out-of-control spending and his flaccid foreign policy.

She will run against his monster deficits, high unemployment, exorbitant taxes and Carteresque national malaise. She will own the message because she has been inside the beast of Mr. Obama’s radicalism. She knows the beast: She has fed and humored it. And in a year or two, she’s going to claim that the beast needs to be starved out of existence.

If you think an intraparty challenge to an incumbent president is impossible, remember 1980. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy challenged President Carter, and the only reason he didn’t beat Mr. Carter was that he couldn’t answer the simple question, “Why do you want to be president?” Mrs. Clinton knows how to answer that one.

Her wallflower days won’t last long. As Mr. Obama grows increasingly vulnerable, his poll numbers slide, the economy worsens and our enemies take advantage of his weakness, she will take notes, keep a record and then run against him.

Mr. Obama may be playing chess, but he had better watch the queen (and her king), who are moving toward checkmate.

Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.

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